This section of the News and Media Services department site tracks stories in print and broadcast media that feature Auggie faculty, students, and staff. The area also is home to material developed for University-related programs, events, and more.
This month, the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP) will celebrate 10 years of local place-making investments along the Green Line corridor with an Anchor Summit featuring Dr. David Maurrasse, leader of the national Anchor Institutions Task Force.
Since 2012, CCAP members organizations—including colleges, universities, health systems, and other partner organizations—have sustained a commitment to the shared health, prosperity, and growth of Central Corridor neighborhoods. Anchor institutions are defined as stable, enduring organizations that are rooted in their localities, whose resources can be leveraged as agents of community and economic development. The CCAP anchor partner capacity comprises 16 ZIP codes, 60,000 employees, and 112,000 students with $2.5 billion in annual spending. Through CCAP, these “eds and meds” have focused on procurement spending, workforce development, and transit use in the ZIP codes along the Green Line in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Augsburg University was a founding member of CCAP, which is chaired by President Paul Pribbenow. Examples of Augsburg’s commitment to neighborhood vitality in recent years include:
The Cedar-Riverside Health Commons drop-in center, which opened in 2011 in collaboration with CCAP partner M Health Fairview, the East Africa Health Project, and People’s Center Health Services.
Urban Scrubs Camp, an annual summer camp for metro students to get hands-on exposure to health care careers and experience a college campus.
Augsburg Local, an initiative to leverage Augsburg’s institutional and individual purchasing power to support local businesses.
Inclusionary contracting in the construction of the Hagfors Center for Business, Science, and Religion, including over $3 million to Twin City Glass Contractors, a woman-owned business located in the Central Corridor geography.
“These strategies not only make our organization stronger, but they contribute to more prosperity for the Central Corridor and the whole Twin Cities region,” said Pribbenow.
The Anchor Summit will be held from 8–10:30 a.m. on November 16 at the Fairview Community Health & Wellness Hub in St. Paul. David Maurrasse will deliver a keynote on the power and potential of anchor partnerships, followed by a panel discussion on creating shared value and community health and safety in the central corridor. For more information, visit centralcorridoranchorpartnership.org/anchor-summit.
Forbes is the latest major media organization to highlight Augsburg’s leadership in coverage of the growing trend of direct admissions nationally. First-year biology major Elsy-Marbeli Cruz-Parra ’27 was interviewed for a Forbes ‘daily cover’ feature in late October.
“By the end of October of 2022, based on her high school grades alone, she had been automatically admitted to 47 two-year or four-year colleges in Minnesota. “It was relieving,” says Cruz-Parra, the first in her family to attend college,” wrote reporter Emma Whitford.
“Cruz was one of the lucky 7,340 students tapped to participate in the first year of Minnesota’s state-run direct admissions pilot program. “Hearing from other seniors who weren’t in the direct admissions program, they were like ‘You have that? God, I have to write essays and get recommendations’ … It was just simple. I had all my top colleges already there.” She’s now a freshman at Augsburg University, nine miles from her hometown of Richfield, following a pre-med track with a major in biology. She chose Augsburg because of its small class sizes, its location (she’s commuting), and because she received a $30,000 a year scholarship to attend.
Augsburg featured prominently in a recent article in the Star Tribune about direct admission in Minnesota. In addition to participating in the state of Minnesota’s direct admission pilot last fall, Augsburg became one of the first schools to move to direct admissions for all applicants (including through the Common App and Augsburg’s own application). Unlike many schools that still require traditional, multi-step applications, Augsburg’s application can be completed in under 10 minutes.
Stephanie Ruckel, director of enrollment systems and analytics, spoke to reporter Liz Navratil about the impact of the direct admissions approach, which launched in Fall 2022 as part of the Augsburg Applies to You platform.
“It’s not a mad dash to the finish line,” she said. “It’s just a smoother ramp and transition to college.”
According to the Star Tribune, “Ruckel estimated that the change freed up about 1,300 hours of admissions counselors’ time, making it easier for them to answer questions about financial aid, visit high schools or help students with disabilities develop plans for the new semester.”
Chris Stedman ’08 joined MPR’s Cathy Wurzer on Minnesota Now on October 25 to discuss his podcast, “Unread,” and its connection to Britney Spears, who recently released a new memoir. “Unread,” which was named one of the best podcasts of 2021 by Vulture and the Guardian, among others, is a four-part series that explores friendship and grief following the death of a close friend of Stedman’s.
“As I was processing his death and trying to make sense of what happened, I found myself thinking so much about why he loved Britney and the resonances that he felt with her and her story, which ultimately is what led me to make Unread,” says Stedman in the interview with MPR. “And really, that’s one of the sort of things that I explore in that podcast in addition to this Britney-related mystery that he left for me when he died, which was kind of what started my exploration is just, why is it that so many people who seem to struggle in life in some way, as he did, see themselves reflected in the experiences of Britney?”
Stedman teaches in Augsburg’s Department of Religion and Philosophy. In addition to “Unread,” he is the author of “IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives” and “Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious.” For the 2023–24 academic year, he is also serving as the Augsburg Interfaith Institute’s inaugural research fellow.
Augsburg University grieves for those who have been caught up in the escalating conflict in and around the Gaza Strip, following the recent Hamas-led attacks in Israel. We lament the violence, terrorism, and human rights abuses that continue to claim innocent lives and undermine security in Israel and Palestine. Together with our partners in the ELCA and members of the Augsburg community with personal ties to the region, we pray for justice, reconciliation, and a durable peace.
Augsburg’s Center for Global Education and Experience values its programming in Israel and Palestine in collaboration with Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem, whose mission is to bring about social change in this historically and religiously significant region through the awareness that art and civic engagement can bring to society. No Augsburg personnel or students are currently participating in CGEE programming in the area.
Newsweek covered the Minnesota Urban Debate League’s 11th annual Mayors Challenge event in Minneapolis this week. The coverage is part of Mightier, a partnership with the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues to illustrate the ways in which debate strengthens the skills young people need to promote civil discourse in a multicultural democracy.
The Mayors Challenge is an annual event at which exceptional high school debaters show off their skills and engage with local and state political leaders before a crowd of supporters. MNUDL, a program of Augsburg University, provides resources and programming to support competitive academic debate for more than 1,000 students at 40 partner schools in the Twin Cities.
“After the event, Abdihafid Mohamed was glowing,” wrote reporter Lauren Giella. “Not only did he feel the adrenaline rush of speaking in front of 200 people, but he also achieved his goal of meeting new people and making connections. Even though his side lost the debate, he said he felt like a “famous celebrity.” He was overwhelmed with people congratulating him on a job well done and exchanging cards, emails and LinkedIns.
“The highlight of the program, he said, was talking face to face with Mayor Frey. Sharing the stage with Frey, Attorney General Ellison, the governor and the first lady made Mohamed feel like he could one day be a leader in his community.
“”Being part of this [MNUDL], seeing them all, means that we’re not far from each other,” he said. “I have the opportunity and possibility to be in their shoes.””
Augsburg University is the most ethnically diverse regional university in the Midwest, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2024 rankings. U.S. News & World Report also ranked Augsburg #2 in undergraduate teaching, #3 for both social mobility and innovation, and #17 overall among the regional universities in the Midwest this year.
To identify colleges where students are most likely to encounter undergraduates from racial or ethnic groups different from their own, U.S. News factors in the total proportion of students who identify as non-Hispanic African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Asian, non-Hispanic white, and multiracial (two or more races), as well as the overall mix of groups. The data for this year’s rankings was drawn from each institution’s fall 2022 total undergraduate student body. The formula produces a diversity index that ranges from 0 to 1, with a high number indicating more diversity. Augsburg’s diversity index in this year’s ranking is 0.73.
In this year’s debate, four students will split into two teams and debate issues related to the 2023–24 national policy debate topic of economic inequality. This topic engages students nationwide about the role of the U.S. federal government in fiscal redistribution, including policy proposals like a federal jobs guarantee, expanding Social Security, and providing basic income.
The debate will take place in front of a community of local education supporters, including special guests Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Governor Tim Walz, First Lady Gwen Walz, and a VIP panel of economic policy experts.
Abdihafid Mohamed of Edison High School, Minneapolis, and Adai Truong of Central High School, Saint Paul, will argue the affirmative at the 11th annual Mayors Challenge event. They will face off against Lily St Dennis of Highland Park High School, Saint Paul, and Sabrena Thao of Tartan High School, Oakdale, arguing the negative. All are members of their schools’ debate teams, hosted by the Minnesota Urban Debate League.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will receive the 2023 Champion of Change Award at the event. This award is given annually to a community changemaker who models courageous leadership and inspires students. Previous recipients include Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
Since 2012, the Mayors Challenge has brought together education advocates from across the Twin Cities to watch an empowering, informative showcase debate and invest in the future of urban debate. Debate has been shown to positively impact literacy, self-esteem, critical thinking, attendance, and test scores. Students who participate in debate develop the capacity to engage in civil disagreement and civil discourse, skills that are essential for citizenship in a multicultural democracy.
The Minnesota Urban Debate League is a program of Augsburg University that provides resources and programming to support competitive academic debate in Twin Cities high schools and middle schools. The mission of MNUDL is to empower students through competitive academic debate to become engaged learners, critical thinkers, and active global citizens who are effective advocates for themselves and their communities. Currently, MNUDL serves more than 1,000 students at 40 partner schools and has seen sustained growth in student participation since its inception in 2004, in programs including national topic policy debate, middle school debate, Spanish Debate League, East African Debate, Financial Literacy Leadership Debates, and MDAW Summer Speech & Debate Camp.
For more information, contact: Minnesota Urban Debate League, Amy Cram Helwich, (612) 359-6467, email@example.com.
More than 95 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2023 Summer Semester Dean’s List. The Augsburg University Dean’s List recognizes those full-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.50 or higher and those part-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.75 or higher in a given term.
Augsburg University is proud to announce the winners of the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award, First Decade Award, and Spirit of Augsburg Award. These outstanding alumni will be recognized at a special ceremony and reception on October 13 as part of Augsburg’s 2023 homecoming and reunion weekend. Learn more about the 2023 alumni award winners.
Distinguished Alumni Award
The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes significant achievement in vocation, for outstanding contribution to church and community, and for a life that exemplifies the ideals and mission of Augsburg University. The 2023 honorees are:
Jan Nelson Meslin ’72, immigration justice activist and community organizer (Cayucos, CA)
James Rodde ’74, choral conductor and professor, Iowa State University (Ames, IA)
Devoney Looser ’89, author, Jane Austen scholar, and professor of English, Arizona State University (Phoenix, AZ)
Tsehai Wodajo ’97, social worker and founder, Resources for the Enrichment of African Lives (St. Paul, MN)
First Decade Award
The First Decade Award is presented to Augsburg graduates of the past 10 years who have made significant progress in their professional achievements and contributions to the community, and in so doing exemplify the mission of the university. The 2023 honorees are:
Kacie Lucchini Butcher ’13, public historian and director, Rebecca M. Blank Center for Campus History, University of Wisconsin—Madison (Madison, WI)
Andre Creighton ’19 MBA, co-founder and chief financial officer, TurnSignl (Buffalo, MN)
Spirit of Augsburg Award
The Spirit of Augsburg Award honors alumni and friends of the university who have given exceptional service that contributes substantially to the well-being of Augsburg by furthering its purposes and programs. The 2023 honoree is Paul Mueller ’84, Mayo Clinic Health System regional vice president, former Board of Regents member, and chair, Great Returns: We’re All In campaign (LaCrosse, WI).